25 excellent PSP games at a bargain price (part 3 of 5)

Thumb - Image 1It’s already the third installment for this five-part series listing 25 games that do not deserve to collect dust in the bargain section of any store. In this installment, we’ll have a few games that come from reputable franchises, such as Metal Gear Solid Portable Ops and Tekken: Dark Resurrection. We’ll also have an interesting puzzle/brain training hybrid in the form of PQ: Practical Intelligence Quotient, and other titles. Don’t miss out on the entire list in the full article!

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We’re finally halfway through the list of games that should be saved from the bargain bin, and this time around we have gaming gems that belong to popular franchises, such as Metal Gear Portable Ops, and even Tekken Dark Resurrection. What is the gaming populace doing, letting these stellar games go stale in store shelves (or storage, if you will)? Snake won’t certainly be pleased.

In any case, go ahead and jump right into this short list and read over the game descriptions, in case you live under a rock and don’t know what any of these titles are about (which we doubt, by the way). Let’s kick of the list with…

Metal Gear Solid Portable Ops
(available at US$ 19.79)

It’s quite surprising to find such an excellent game the likes of Konami‘s Metal Gear Solid Portable Ops in the bargain bin, but time – and the steady stream of new games that get released into the market – tends to cause this kind of injustice. Portable Ops is the quite the portable stealth game that every Metal Gear Solid fans are yearning for their PSPs.

With exceptional graphics courtesy of the Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence Engine used in the game, Portable Ops looks nothing short of simply being excellent when it comes to visuals. The gameplay offers something new even to veterans of the series: unique to Portable Ops is its Comrade System, where Snake converts enemy soldiers over to his side.

The recruitment itself also lends another gameplay aspect in Portable Ops. Snake will have to bring – or oftentimes, drag – potential converts to his pal Roy Campbell’s truck. This includes having to tranquilize them to sleep, or if all else fails, CQC them to submission (and eventual unconsciousness).

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But even more fun are the other ways on how you can get enemies to cross over to your side. One of the unique methods is via the PSP’s AP Scan, where your portable console scans for any Wi-Fi hotspots within the area. Recruitment success depends on the strength of the Wi-Fi signal, but if there’s nothing that can be done with the signal, you can play and win mini-games to make your PSP augment the signal’s strength.

Yet another way to beef up your troops is by using the PSP’s GPS add-on (where available). Just attach the GPS receiver to your PSP, and your PSP will enable you to come across any soldiers depending on your handheld’s actual coordinates. Definitely cool, yes.

Aside from the novelty that it lends the franchise, the Comrade system introduces a totally new concept of tactical stealth: instead of using the environment to be able to sneak past guards, Snake will just send any of his recruits to infiltrate the base in his stead. It’s a good way to sneak in, but Snake’s troops still have to take care not to do anything strange for them to blend in.

Being the direct sequel to Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater, PSP owners who are interested in keeping tabs on Snake’s (any incarnation) exploits should definitely not miss out on Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops. It’s definitely a keeper.

Virtua Tennis World Tour (available at US$ 7.82)

Sega and Sumo Digital‘s Virtua Tennis World Tour can be considered as one of those games that epitomize what “pick-up-and-play” fun truly means, without having to sacrifice the actual quality of the game. If you’re looking for something to play on your PSP that won’t give you any headaches if you’re forced to turn off your handheld at any time, then this could be the game that you’re looking for.

One of the things that make Virtua Tennis World Tour a definite buy is its relatively low learning curve, making it an accessible game to play to players of all skill levels. It also doesn’t require gamers to work their way to get into the heat of the action as well – the Quick Match mode lets anyone get their quick tennis fix without having to go through the necessary hassle of selecting characters and stages.

The main meat of the game in Virtua Tennis World Tour, World Tour Mode, is pretty much a good way to let yourself get sucked into a game without having to stick to it for extended periods of time in just one sitting.

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Players start off by creating two characters, one for each gender. The customization options are quite decent – one can choose their avatar’s face, skin color, hair and hair color – but we wish that the option to change eyes and other individual facial elements were also available. Since the two characters start off with virtually zero skills, it’s the player’s task to train them until they’re fit to become world champs.

Training in Virtua Tennis World Tour is actually more fun than sweating it out in a real-life tennis boot camp (of course). The minigames each focus on improving a particular abilities, like footwork, serving, among other basic tennis skills.

However, the single-player modes of Virtua Tennis World Tour aren’t the only things that keep this game afloat. One other stellar feature that this game has is its rich multiplayer Quick Match gameplay, which is quite seamless and lag free.

If you want a quick fix of fun that’ll grow on you for only less than ten bucks, then Virtua Tennis World Tour is the game for you.

SOCOM U.S. Navy SEALs Fireteam Bravo 2 (available at US$ 14.99)

Zipper Interactive’s SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Fireteam Bravo 2 simply belongs in this list of awesome games that should be saved from the bargain bin. Packed with features such as new game types and Enhanced Crosstalk, Fireteam Bravo 2 easily shines as one of the one of the best tactical shooters that ever graced Sony’s PlayStation Portable.

Set in the fictional war-torn country of Adjikistan, players are once again thrown into the shoes of soldiers sent to battle mercenaries and terrorists. The single-player campaign is highlighted by an engaging storyline that is further enhanced by the… yes, Enhanced Crosstalk feature that lets Fireteam Bravo 2 interact with SOCOM U.S. Navy SEALs: Combined Assault for the PlayStation 2 console, letting the outcome of one game affect the other.

The Enhanced Crosstalk feature works like this: troops that die in Fireteam Bravo 2 will be also dead once you switch to Combined Assault (and vice versa), and places that are destroyed in one game can be found in the same state in the other. It’s a pretty interesting feature that should not be missed if the player also owns a PS3 console.

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But the integration between the two games doesn’t end on a topical level. The storyline of both Fireteam Bravo 2 and Combined Assault are also tightly woven into each other; at times players will come across characters from the other game while they go about, fulfilling their own respective missions. Quite a nice touch, that.

But the game isn’t only about the single-player campaign. Fireteam Bravo 2 also boasts of a pretty solid multiplayer mode: it has eight new multiplayer maps and some returning ones. Three new game types – Target, Tug of War, Capture the Flag – are thrown into the mix as well, giving multiplayer fanatics more to crunch on in both multiplayer Infrastructure and Ad Hoc modes.

Offering a unique brand of  single-player campaign in the form of Enhanced Crosstalk, as well as an exceptional multi-player experience, SOCOM U.S. Navy SEALs Fireteam Bravo 2 shouldn’t be missed out by fans of the genre.

Tekken: Dark Resurrection (available at US$ 19.99)

Anyone who owns a PSP but doesn’t have a copy of Tekken: Dark Resurrection is pretty much a rare breed, and with that said we’re having some mixed feelings about including this game into this list… simply because every PSP gamer is supposed to have their own copy already.

Let’s delve into the graphics first. The PSP port of Tekken: Dark Resurrection is as every bit as delicious as its arcade counterpart. With the actual matches running at 60 fps (receding to 30 fps during pre- and post-fight cinematics), the game certainly doesn’t fail to impress when it comes to visuals. It’s no small feat, especially when you consider that this is a handheld game.

Tekken Tag Tournament and Tekken 6 aside, Tekken: Dark Resurrection boasts of having a massive selection of playable characters – about 36 characters, including Lili and Dragunov – and also has a thick layer of customization added on top of everything else. Clothes, alternate colors, accessories and even colored auras can be bought using the money earned from matches (any single or online gameplay mode), and minigames.

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Those confident in their fighting skills can take their fisticuffs to the next level. In Dark Resurrection‘s Tekken Dojo mode, players can download player ghosts and ghosts packs taken from both the PSP and arcade versions, and fight them. Uploading own ghosts for others to download is also an option.

Important above anything else, of course, is the gameplay. Advanced players can choose to take advantage of the game’s combo-centric system, by dishing out chains of powerful attacks (or rather painful grappling, in some cases) and juggling opponents mid-air. Learning how to counter these ridiculously powerful moves is also a must for every player.

The crisp, smooth flow of gameplay that suffers little to no lag doesn’t hurt the experience afforded by this title, either. If you haven’t given Tekken: Dark Resurrection a try, go ahead and do so. You don’t know how much you’ve missed.

PQ: Practical Intelligence Quotient (available at US$ 14.55)

Despite its title, PQ: Practical Intelligence Quotient isn’t your run-of-the-mill brain or intelligence training game: it’s more like a puzzle game that’s reminiscent of Sony’s monochromatic puzzler, Echochrome. In this title, players are tested for their spatial reasoning, memory, predictive reasoning, and lateral thinking – all of which comprise one’s Practical Intelligence.

What makes the game worthy of being included in the list is its simple, yet engrossing puzzles. With 100 puzzles all in all (10 stages with 10 puzzles each), there’s a wide array of puzzles to choose from, each presenting a different kind of challenge yet never too complicated enough to scare anyone off from picking up the game again.

The obstacles that can be encountered in PQ: Practical Intelligence Quotient range from boxes, lasers, conveyor belts, doors, and even sentry guards. But don’t worry; like any self-respecting puzzle game, PQ will teach you the ropes on how to deal with each and every kind of object that you’ll come across.

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With that said; there’s only one goal for all puzzles: reach the exit. There will be simple, straightforward puzzles; others can be complex enough to look like adventure-type riddles. The challenge is not only limited to reaching the goal; rather, on how you do so as well.

In the end, you’ll be judged on how much time you needed to complete a level, how many steps it took you to reach the exit, as well as how many points are left in your bonus counter.

Also like Echochrome is PQ‘s simple, yet streamlined graphics, reminiscent of the VR Missions of the Metal Gear Solid series. The player is represented by the white-colored silhouette of a man, and the surroundings share the same barebones design aesthetic that fits the overall concept of the game: a game that has nothing but well-designed, engrossing puzzles.

If you prefer your games straight up, with no extra, superfluous baggage such as characters, storylines, or whatever, then you may want to take a shot at PQ: Practical Intelligence Quotient.

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